Wilier Zero.9 Ultegra 11spd RS21

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The Wilier Zero.9 Ultegra Eleven-speed bike takes the updated Zero.9 frameset and marries it to the components most likely to be bought by racers, Shimano Ultegra 6800.

The Zero.9 frameset is very much a balancing act. It nearly shares a geometry with Wilier's feathery Zero.7 (one mm off here and there) and a carbon lay-up with their WorldTour Cento1SR. Even with this DNA, the Zero.9 takes its own path. The tubes are smaller in diameter and the profiles are much more rounded than you'll find elsewhere in Wilier's lineup. This means that the bike will ride fast, but feel stable and comfortable, working in a subtler asymmetric rear end that is able to resist rider-created forces while still allowing road-created forces to get absorbed before reaching the rider.

The balancing act also includes the oversized bottom bracket shell and the skinnier seat stays. And the tapered 1 1/8" to 1 1/4" steerer which then transitions to a chunky fork crown, and then back to slender legs before reaching the fork tips. Efficiency and precision are important, but so, too, is long-ride comfort.

The frameset has been updated for 2015, with internal cable routing. Remaining is the BB386EVO, the bottom bracket standard they developed with FSA, which allows for a wide 86mm shell and a larger diameter shell, much like a BB30. Most modern cranks fit, and the frame is lighter and stiffer as a result.

Shimano not only has the drivetrain locked up, but virtually all of the components. Of course, the highlight is the 6800 drivetrain; it has all the design features of the pricier Dura-Ace 9000, but accomplishes the same task with less flash, and a little more weight. The levers are light, comfortable, and engage the derailleurs quickly. The derailleurs have a lighter feel, thanks to better leverage up front and a stiffer parallelogram in the rear. The included crank sports compact 50/34 rings. The rear has eleven cogs, an 11-25 cassette, giving you 22 workable gears. And the brakes might be best of all. The new dual-pivot design does a better job of balancing power and modulation, and easily fits wide rims.

Shimano’s RS21 wheels are another example of how well Shimano does trickle down technology. While they stick with their successful angular contact bearings, just about everything here has seen improvement. The rims are 20.8mm wide, which puts more air volume in the 23mm Vittoria Rubino tires that come with; 25mm, even 28mm tires will fit. The depths are differential, with 24mm in the back for greater strength, and 21mm in the front for lighter weight. The rear is also asymmetric, as a way to balance out the spoke tension. The spoke count is sixteen in the front and twenty in the rear, again working both aerodynamics, weight, and strength. It’s a workhorse set that also performs well enough to race.

The Wilier Zero.9 is subtly futuristic, with a healthy dose of the classic. Still, as it sits below the 1000g frame weight, it is still up-to-the-minute light.

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